Very so often, when I'm walking down the street with my two little girls, I'll catch sight of a pregnant woman -- large, uncomfortable, but undeniably glowing -- and I'll get a twinge of jealousy. She's so lucky, I'll think. It's not that every minute of my two pregnancies was pure bliss. But once I got past the nausea and fatigue, I discovered that not only could pregnancy be fun, but it could have moments of transcendence unlike any other time in my life. Here, the top 20 reasons I loved being pregnant:
1. Listening to my husband read to my belly. After a particularly funny David Sedaris story, I swear I heard the baby laugh.
2. Maternity clothes that were way more stylish than anything in my regular wardrobe. The best part was that I never had to worry if my butt looked big, since everything looked tiny compared to my burgeoning belly.
3. People smiling at me and holding the door as if I were someone important.
4. My work colleagues saying, "You look exhausted! Why don't you go home early, I'll finish up those papers."
5. Membership in a special sorority. Any time I passed another pregnant woman on the street, or a mom with a newborn, we would grin at each other as if we were in on a secret no one else shared.
6. Having an instant icebreaker at parties.
7. Watching the amazing nightly spectacle of my baby moving around in my belly.
8. A legitimate excuse to take a daily break at 4 p.m. to go out and get a large frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles.
9. The incredibly satisfying creative pursuit of thinking up baby names. I spent countless hours scribbling different combinations. Elizabeth Grace or Bellamy Cate? Madeleine Rose or Molly Ilana?
10. World-class service. One night at a trendy Italian restaurant with a 45-minute wait, the ma?tre d' insisted, "We don't make the mama wait! Take this table!"
11. Shoe shopping made easier. My feet grew a half size and stayed that way, which means I went from being a hard-to-find 5 to an in-stock-everywhere 6.
12. For the first time in my life, cleavage!
13. A whole new social world. Two of my closest friends are a woman I met in childbirth class and a neighbor I knew only in passing, who knocked on my door with a stack of pregnancy books and a bag of maternity clothes.
14. On the subway, in my cubicle, at the grocery store, there was always someone I loved keeping me company.
15. Making a special effort to go to all those romantic restaurants my husband and I had been eager to try because we knew we wouldn't do it again for a while.
16. Baby hiccups! Once I figured out what those weird rhythmic pulses in my belly were, they gave me a good giggle.
17. My hair, which hadn't been that thick and luxurious since I was 12 years old.
18. Watching my husband look at cribs and diaper pails with the intensity he used to save for digital cameras and HDTV.
19. Being able to see beyond the next weekend and look into a future filled with family vacations, school recitals, bat mitzvahs, college, weddings, and even -- gulp -- grandchildren.
20. Knowing that all those years of getting my period finally paid off!
Marisa Cohen is a writer in New York City.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, February 2006.